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Meet the Cardoon

Meet the Cardoon

Emily Balducci Dec 12 , 2016

Cardoon is a traditional winter vegetable and a member of the thistle family. It’s related to the artichoke with a similarly sweet flavor. Cardoons are commonly served around the holidays in Italy in the form of a Christmas Eve casserole or soup.


For a delicious appetizer to serve with cocktails, we absolutely love cardoon dipped in a light beer or tempura batter and fried in canola or peanut oil. Cook until golden then drain well on paper toweling. Sprinkle with a good sea salt and serve with cold wine or champagne.


This original Baldor recipe was created specifically for the new-season cardoon grown by Ocean Mist Farms in central California. They have been cultivating cardoon for decades and are the largest, most reliable supplier in the country. A special thanks to our team member Nick Altero for showing us how to prep cardoon below.



Juice of 1 lemon
1 lg bunch of cardoon (about 2-3 lbs)
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil+ ¼ cup for drizzling
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 lb spinach, clean and chopped, tough stems discarded
6 small red new potatoes, scrubbed
Grape seed oil spray
¼ cup fresh plain breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Sea salt to taste
¾ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
6 ripe plum tomatoes sliced crosswise into ¼ inch thick coins
1 cup grated Muenster or mild Swiss cheese
*Serves 10-12

1. Bring large pot of salted, acidulated water to a boil (squeeze in juice of ½ lemon).

2. Separate the cardoon bunch into stalk and remove the strings from the length of the stalk with a paring knife. Cut each stalk into chunks about 2 inches long. Drop them in the boiling, acidulated water and cook about ½ hr until they are pliable. If cardoons are particularly tough this step might take a little longer. Drain and set aside to cool.

3. In the meantime, heat 2 tbs. of the olive oil briefly in skillet over medium heat and add garlic. Cook until it just starts to color. Add spinach and sauté about 5 minutes. Set aside.

4. Put potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook about 10 -15 minutes. Drain and let cool. Slice potatoes into ¼ inch thick coins and set aside.

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Spray the bottom of medium sized casserole dish with grape seed oil. Sprinkle lightly with just a dusting of the breadcrumbs. Combine the remaining breadcrumbs with the grated Parmigiano and set aside.

3. Lay half the cooked cardoon chunks down first, covering every inch of the casserole. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Cover with layer of cooked spinach, using all of it. Top that layer with all the reserved potato coins. Next, sprinkle ½ the amount of grated Muenster or Swiss cheese over the potatoes and top that with ½ the amount of breadcrumbs/Parmigiano mixture. Sprinkle 2 more tablespoons of olive on top.

4. Layer olives and tomatoes on next, then top with remaining cardoon. Sprinkle once again with a little salt and top with remaining grated Muenster (or Swiss) cheese, then the remaining breadcrumb/Parmigiano mixture. Generously drizzle the last ¼ cup olive oil over all and cover with aluminum foil.

5. Bake for 20 minutes covered, then remove foil and bake another 10 minutes uncovered until top is golden brown.


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